Load Shedding represents a persistent problem in South Africa. As the energy crisis worsens, government has declared a State of Disaster to resolve the matter.
As the year of 2022 drew to its end, citizens began to feel the increasingly difficult effects of load shedding-induced power outages. At the height of this load shedding, South Africans were subject to at least 4 hours without power each consecutive day.
Thereafter, when the 2023 year began, it was declared that Eskom would impose load shedding on a regular basis for at least another 24 months. As such, citizens were forced to grow accustomed to the fact that load shedding would become a semi-permanent fixture of their daily lives.
Nevertheless, the hardships that have been caused by the load shedding crisis, have prompted drastic action from the government.
As of the State of the Nation Address (Sona), which took place on Thursday, the 9th of February 2023, President Ramaphosa declared a national State of Disaster.
This came as a direct result of the load shedding crisis, which the presidency acknowledges as having impacted lives, livelihoods and businesses.
During his address, President Ramaphosa said the following:
In considering all these matters and the crisis that we are in, the National Disaster Management Centre has consequently classified the energy crisis and its impact as a national disaster. We are therefore declaring a national State of Disaster to respond to the electricity crisis and its effects.
Further addressing the impact of load shedding, President Ramaphosa stated that “the crisis has progressively evolved to affect every part of society”, representing “an existential threat to our economy and social fabric”.
Under this State of Disaster, government plans to find solutions to the energy crisis that attempt to curb its effects on businesses, hospitals, and treatment plants in particular.
These plans are set to include the provision of practical measures that will enable government to potentially offer “the rollout of generators, solar panels and uninterrupted supply” to these facilities, as stated by the President.
Government is also planning on using this opportunity to “accelerate energy projects” and more in the process. However, given the ambition of the project, there are a few more requirements that will be put in place.
The first of which is that a Minister of Energy in the Presidency is to be appointed to “focus solely on bringing the country out of the current energy deficit”. The minister appointed will focus all of their energy on this particular crisis.
Furthermore, the Auditor General’s office will be tasked with guarding against the “abuse of any funds needed” in this ambitious project.
Whilst this news might garner some optimism from citizens, the appointment of an official Minister of Energy is still underway. However, in the meantime the Minister of Public Enterprises will continue to lead the restructuring that is to accompany this State of Disaster.